The National Academy of Science's Decadal Survey (New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy, 2003) recommended that NASA develop a medium-class mission to return a comet surface sample to Earth for laboratory analysis. NASA tasked the Applied Physics Laboratory to refine the concepts described in the Decadal Survey. As stated in the task guidelines:
The study results will include a pre-phase A fidelity plan to implement the mission concept, evaluating the cost, schedule and risk. A Science Definition Team (SDT) will be appointed by NASA Headquarters to work with mission designers and technologists. The study will take recent activities into account, assess opportunity and technological readiness, and provide estimated costs.